Getting a liquor sponsor doesn’t mean finding someone to stop you from having another shot of vodka. That is a different kind of sponsor. For event planners, getting a liquor sponsor for an event can be a great way to keep costs down and increase attendance. But getting one of these offers is definitely not easy (unless you have a close connection; close as if your brother had Ketel One). Alcoholic beverage companies won’t just sponsor a random event, so for most party planners, getting free alcohol will require creativity and persistence.
Who to contact
First, think carefully about your event and what your target audience / demographic of attendees will be. The main reason any business will agree to sponsor an event is for publicity and exposure. If the event you’re hosting is for a low-budget consumer brand, high-end distributors like Gray Goose and Patron are unlikely to sign up on board. The most important thing to note is why the audience that is drawn to your event is a perfect fit with the liquor company’s target market. Understand what the potential sponsor is looking to do about the brand and the market, and think about what benefits them, not you. If there is any way to prove (or plead and convince) that the promotion at the event will allow the sponsor to reach new or more potential customers than they could reach on their own, you have a compelling case that you have a chance.
Lesser-known companies looking for the opportunity to build their brand can be big targets. There are tons of new liquor companies popping up every year, but few of them become household names at the bar. If you’re hosting an event for an up-and-coming trendsetting audience, why try an established brand that’s old? An unfamiliar pop-up liquor may not only be easier to secure, it is better suited to the image of your event. Similarly, urban brands like Alize often try to get their name out there and are therefore more likely to consider event sponsorship. As a final technique, do some good fashion research: Are there alcohol companies that are launching a new product, trying to expand into different customer markets, or hurting sales, and looking to revamp their image? Any of these scenarios indicates that the company could be open to a potential sponsorship opportunity if presented in the right way.
How to do it
Once you have your launch strategy defined, it’s time to act on it. The most direct way is to contact liquor companies directly and have them connect you with the representative that covers your market. Restaurant, bar, and club managers are also good sources for finding out the names and contact information of liquor representatives and distributors. If there are liquor brands that these establishments are currently promoting for, better yet, it gives you a starting point to identify receptive targets. If the rep really does accept a meeting, being creative in how exactly the sponsor will get exposure is often critical to closing the deal. Promotional links such as co-branding the event on all marketing materials, placing the sponsor’s logo on the event / host company website, meeting midway, and having the sponsor pass free samples but not host the entire event , are all ways to create a win-win for both parties. Consider who, why, and think outside of the box about the how, and you may have a chance (pun intended).